Opposition parties accused Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s administration of mismanagement that has led to the current, unprecedented economic and political crisis, the parliament heard on Wednesday.
Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP), said the Thai economy is now the worst performer in ASEAN and almost the worse in Asia, according to the International Monetary Fund’s latest data.
Apart from the looming recession, the government has also failed to maintain the baht’s competitiveness, he said, as the currency is appreciating while exporters are already facing the slowdown in global demands due to the pandemic.
He added that the number of unemployed persons have also increased five-fold when compared to the previous no-confidence debate in February.
At the same time, the banking system is taking in more debts while non-performing loans are increasing where debtors, with a combined outstanding of 720 billion baht, have already asked for a debt restructuring program from loan providers.
The government is missing its tax collection target for fiscal 2020 budget by 400 billion baht, he added, as stated by the Ministry of Finance in August.
As for the 400 billion baht budget to stimulate the economy, the leader of MFP said the government have reported that at least 40 billion baht have been approved for disbursement.
However, the actual spending so far is only worth 400 million baht – which accounts for only 0.1 per cent of the budget.
Other measures have also failed during the implementation process, such as measures to stimulate domestic tourism worth more 22 billion baht, where only 17 per cent of the 4 million participants have booked and stayed in a hotel during the promotional period.
“All of this shows a void in the management of the country’s economy,” he said. “The captain has put on the neutral gear while ignoring the storm that is rushing in,” he commented.
Pita also pointed out the Prayut’s government has received the most funding of nearly 20 trillion baht since he came into power via the coup of 2014.
“For five years, they have no oppositions and no one to check on them,” said Pita. “They received nearly 20 trillionbaht worth of budget during the past five years – more than any previous governments in history.”
“But our economy is now one of the worse in Asia.”
As for the current political crisis, Pita blames it on the current constitution that was drafted by the previous Junta.
He said the charter was drafted and used to ensure that PM Prayut continues to be stay in power in this government, which eventually led to the current political crisis.
The unjust use of Section 116 of the Criminal Code or sedition charge by the current administration to arrest political activists and university students is also creating more political conflict within the society, he added.
“Today, it is now clear that the Thai people are now experiencing the worst Prime Minster the country has ever had,” Pita concluded his speech.
Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, leader of the Prachachart Party who is about to retire on September 11, said PM Prayut has been in power for more than five years but nothing has improved economically, politically or socially.
The embattled PM should step down the same way that former PM and President of the Privy Council Prem Tinsulanonda did in the past by simply telling politicians that support him that he “had enough”, he added.
In defense, PM Prayut said the government is doing its best to attend to the needs of different groups of people in the society.
He said that his government has been trying to solve problems that have been overlooked by past governments, adding that economic problems will be discussed by other members of the government.
The PM also said that he does not have any problem with the ongoing protests against him.
As for the criticisms that he did has failed to reform the country as promised, Prayut responded it is hard to do so in a democratic system since he is willing to listen to every proposal, which is time consuming.